Sun 19 Sep, 2004 06:32 pm
We had tamales at a restaurant today for lunch. Chicken with the bone in is enveloped in a corn meal mash, covered with sliced potato and carrot with some peas mixed in. This is wrapped in "hoja de tamal", a large sturdy leaf from a native plant that is dissapearing because nobody bothers to re-plant it. The correct name escapes me. Second choice is "platano" leaf or plantain. Once wrapped in a leaf the tamal is immersed in boiling water over a wood fire and cooked for several hours. I don't understand why but the leaf makes a watertight seal when it's immersed and the contents are never watery or soggy. The pot is without a lid and wood smoke permeates the boiling water and gives the tamal a delicate smoke flavor. A variation that my mother in law makes is the tamal de tres carnes: beef, pork and chicken and she adds tomato and onion and pepper. White rice and an arepa are sevrved along side.
That sounds really good and reminds me that when I finally was able to eat Mexican food in Mexico it was nothing like Mexican food in the US.